Twenty years ago today, Jo Dee Messina flipped that infamous coin, proclaiming to the country music world that heads would take her to Carolina, while tails would send her to California. Luckily for longtime fans of the genre, the coin flip ultimately didn’t dictate Messina’s fate, and, instead, she followed her heart to Nashville.
On Jan. 22, 1996, Messina released “Heads Carolina, Tails California” as her debut single; also serving as the lead single off her first album. The song, which examines possible locations on a globe, in turn put Messina’s name on America’s map. And the gamble paid off: It made her a bonafide force in country music when she peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Since the release of the debut single, Messina has charted nine No. 1 singles, and has sold over five million albums worldwide. She’s been recognized by several organizations, even winning coveted CMA and ACM Awards.
With an unparalleled catalog, Messina has become an inspirational artist to strong, young females in the industry, made evident by the frequent homage paid by virtue of cover performances. In 2013, Danielle Bradbery, Season 4 winner of NBC’s The Voice, tackled the tune, experiencing chart-topping digital sales. Most recently, CMA Award-winning duo, Maddie & Tae, covered “Heads Carolina, Tails California” on the Start Here Tour, sharing with young and eager fans that if they love nineties country music, this song is a must-know.
Interestingly, Messina also shared a little anecdote with fans who attended her recent Stageit online show, divulging that Garth Brooks once requested the rights to cover the song on an album. However, Messina put the kibosh on that, laughing that she would never be remembered if Brooks adopted her career kickoff track.
Happy Country Music Anniversary to Jo Dee Messina, and thank you for making flip-a-coin life decisions socially acceptable!